The investigatory saga following an accusation of foul play in the death of poet Pablo Neruda appears to be drawing to a close, thanks to a Chilean judge’s ruling. Neruda’s remains were exhumed in 2013, in the hopes of discovering whether his death was truly the result of his cancer, or the product of a politically motivated assassination by poison....more
Posts Tagged: The Guardian
Agatha Christie was never shy to reply to her fan mail, and now the notable crime writer’s letters will be collected and published in celebration of her 125th birthday. The collection will not only feature Christie’s letters, but also the original fan mail, including correspondences with a Polish woman who told Christie that her novel The Man in the Brown Suit helped her to survive German labor camps during the second world war:
“I read and reread (it) so often that I almost knew it by heart,” she wrote.
To master dialogue, description, subtext, plot, structure, character, time, point of view, beginnings, endings, theme and much besides is a Herculean labour, not made more appealing by the fact that you always—always—fail.
All this classifying, it seems to me, is the very antithesis of literature. The way of literature is to seek universality. Writers try to reach beyond those things that divide us: culture, class, gender, race. Given the chance, we would resist classification.
A recent poll by YouGuv, intended to determine the most desired professions for Britons, suggests a strong interest in expanding the ranks of authors and academics. Though common conception holds these groups to be prone to an embattled posture, forever defending an endangered tradition of bookishness, it seems that writers still hold a position of respect in the public imagination....more
You can find forever-young baby boomer grandmas falling in love at 60 and novels about spirited older women finding self-fulfillment, but novels about grandparents’ relationships with their grandchildren seem in short supply.
Over at the Guardian, Helen Harris shares her experience of finding an underrepresented audience for her latest novel, about a grandmother-grandson relationship....more
How many times do you need to reread Hamlet? Stephen Marche says he’s reread the play more than a hundred times. And all that reading has not been without effect. Marche says that by rereading Hamlet, its meaning has changed:
The main effect of reading Hamlet a 100 times was, counter-intuitively, that it lost its sense of cliche.
The Guardian reports on a playful man bites dog story from Dutch design firm Moore: a book that judges potential readers by their covers. The prototype uses facial recognition to identify expressions, and will only unlock the book if it finds a neutral attitude, keeping at bay both the skeptical and the overenthusiastic....more
Since much of the rhetoric around recent outbreaks of the measles revolves around concern for the well-being of children, perhaps the strongest advocate to answer our concerns is a beloved author of children’s literature. The Guardian shares an emotional letter from Roald Dahl, who lost his seven-year-old daughter Olivia to the disease at a time when vaccination rates in England were still low enough to preclude herd immunity....more
There’s a misconception about what is truly shocking – that the shocking is the purely explicit. It seems to me that’s easy, and it’s been done in literature for centuries. What’s problematic, the real way to be shocking, is to have an unstable tone, or to use the wrong tone, the tone that’s not appropriate or that’s deemed inappropriate.
A not-too-surprising result of a new poll shows that authors’ annual wages continue to fall and are now below $5,000, reports the Guardian. Authors who split their writing between traditional and self-published methods seemed to fare best, on average.
Overall, half of the writers – traditional and independent – surveyed this year earned $1,000– $2,999 or less.
Salman Rushdie, no stranger to controversy, now finds himself under scrutiny from a different sort of institution: the Times Literary Supplement. Michael Caines, writing for TLS, takes issue with Rushdie’s recent use of the word “medieval” in a statement made about the Charlie Hebdo attacks....more
The Guardian profiles Alex Malarkey, co-author of the bestseller The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven. After admitting that, among other things, he’s never actually been there, his publisher looks to backtrack, evangelists work at damage-control, and the Malarkeys try to find their way back to an even keel....more
In a playful reflection on the work and philosophy of poet Carol Ann Duffy, Jeanette Winterson explores the possibilities for storytelling, feminism, and everyday entertainment through poetry. Winterson excerpts poems from The World’s Wife in the voices of historical better halfs real and imagined, from Dorothy Wordsworth with her daffodils to Mrs....more
We’re only a few centuries and a small apocalyptic event away from isolated communities of huddled believers worshipping the gospels of Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and Le Guin….Let’s not think about L Ron Hubbard.
In the Guardian, Damien Walter argues that science fiction is the religion of the future....more
Over at the Guardian, Scottish author Irvine Welsh makes a case for Bret Easton Ellis’s often reviled, always controversial American Psycho as a modern classic. Welsh—the author of his own modern classic, Trainspotting—defends the novel, insisting that the qualities that make it uncomfortable for us as readers are why it’s so profound:
American Psycho holds a hyper-real, satirical mirror up to our faces, and the uncomfortable shock of recognition it produces is that twisted reflection of ourselves, and the world we live in.
Jean-Paul Sartre became the only Nobel literature laureate to voluntarily decline the honor in 1964, but as newly released archives from the Swedish Academy reveal, it was at least partially due to a failure in correspondence. Sartre wrote to the Nobel committee that fall, as they were deliberating on a ballot with no runaway favorites; if his letter had arrived before they came to an agreement, the decision might have swung another way, perhaps resulting in a win for Mikhail Sholokhov a year early, or for Auden, who never received a Nobel prize....more
For the Guardian, Damien Walter applauds the growing diversity of science fiction titles in 2014, particularly the work of Kameron Hurley and Anne Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice. Of Leckie’s work Walter writes:
Its unconventional take on gender politics helped Ancillary Justice make a clean sweep of the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke and BSFA awards, a rare and deserved achievement.
For the Guardian, Hilary Mantel wonders where to “shelve” C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed. While the work’s Christian themes make it tempting to label it as a “religious” text, Mantel argues that the book is complicated by Lewis’s “crisis of faith” after the death of his wife:
It is not that Lewis ceases to believe in God.
Today there is plenty of fretting over the “War on Christmas,” but the holiday didn’t always hold such importance in everyday lives, even for Christians. Two hundred years ago, industrialization gave people a lot more to worry about than Black Friday sales and eggnog-soaked office holiday parties....more
Santa’s elves spend all year manufacturing low-cost holiday decorations to bring Westerners Christmas cheer. The only problem? They aren’t elves, but Chinese factory workers. The Guardian explores life in the Chinese “Christmas Village” responsible for 60% of the world’s holiday decorations....more